Bartlett talks about taking over from Clive Nicholls and why she’s a passionate advocate of diversity

When Lisa Bartlett took over from retiring president Clive Nicholls at Crawford’s last October, she called it the “proudest moment” of her entire career in insurance.

Bartlett had been the loss adjuster’s chief client officer since June 2019.

And having moved to Crawford’s from AXA, where she was regional director north for almost five years, she said several reasons attracted her to the firm.

“I like leading teams and getting involved in client propositions so both of those elements were present when Clive approached me to do the role. There was an added challenge of trying to integrate technology into our client propositions – something that I had not done before,” she told Insurance Times.

Bartlett is no stranger to the insurance industry, from working as a client executive for Marsh in 2004, spending seven years in two senior positions at Aon, later moving to Towergate as sales and marketing director in 2012 and then landing a role at Willis Group in 2014 as client sales and service leader.

But having begun her career as a trainee underwriter at AXA she didn’t really know what to expect.

“It didn’t take me long to figure out – ‘work hard, play hard’ and that’s generally what I have experienced.”

Playing catchup

Being a “passionate advocate” of diversity and inclusion, Bartlett says “playing catchup” is absolutely the order of the day in the insurance industry but she believes that the issue is much broader than gender – and that it is shifting.

Bartlett said this is because, while she herself has not encountered any barriers to success, she has certainly met women who have.

“We have more roles available with flexible working that are suitable for women with families,” she said.

But her biggest challenge, she says, has been dealing with resistance to change and permeating technology, new ideas and new ways of working.

“I feel like I have been empowered at Crawford’s and have the freedom to make things happen,” she added.

Insurance is changing

Bartlett also believes that the insurance industry is changing, “I think we are in a unique position whether you are a claims management company, a broker, or a carrier. We are all facing the same challenges, and because we are all facing the same challenges that will bring about change.”

The first is technology. All companies are grappling with how to integrate new technology, she says, and some trends she’s observed include the automation of simple tasks, more use of video in apps reducing face-to-face interaction, multi-channel communication for customers to suit 24/7 demand and a focus on claims prevention and a reduction in risk.

In terms of talent, Bartlett says for rules-based processing replacing human handling she foresees more offshoring, but to offset that there will be greater demand for technical expertise and analytics especially new expertise such as cyber, data and parametrics.

Finally, the regulatory challenges could bring tighter controls on suppliers and third parties, as well as increased focus on customer outcomes and conduct of employees. But Bartlett believes this is a “good thing” for the industry, as it needs to raise standards and professionalism.

Bartlett said that businesses across the industry will need to work together to achieve a more joined-up approach.

Top priorities

Meanwhile, Bartlett’s top priority is to drive the people agenda, which she sees as fundamental to growing the business. This is also the cornerstone of Crawford’s global strategy. “For me it’s about growing the right culture and equipping our people for what we expect of them.”

And over the last six months in her current role she has already initiated change. The firm began reviewing its HR policies and non-salary benefits to ensure it is attractive to new applicants.

It appointed Caroline Poppleton in February as leader of diversity and inclusion across Crawford’s, as well as making a series of senior appointments and promotions.

It held its first leadership conference in January, which involved managers getting together to think about their own behaviour and launch its people strategy.

She has worked to increase the visibility and engagement of Crawford’s leadership team internally.

Overall, Bartlett plans to bring further investment into its talent training. It set up the Crawford Academy this year and it will shortly launch some career paths supported by a technical training programme.